Baker City Council considers Urban Renewal District

The City of Baker is considering the creation of an Urban Renewal District (URD) without increasing property taxes. 

 

 

Posted Friday, January 30, 2015

By Lori Kesinger

The City of Baker is considering the creation of an Urban Renewal District (URD) without increasing property taxes. The Eastern Montana Economic Development Authority (EMEDA) presented the concept to the City Council Jan. 21.

“The Urban Renewal District is a way to continue with the priorities brought forth at the vision meetings held several years ago,” said Mona Madler, EMEDA/SMART Director. “It is also based on the information the MSU Community Design Center gave to us last Summer.”

An Urban Renewal District is a program authorized by the statutes of the State of Montana. It is intended to assist communities in improving and redeveloping “blighted” areas. The program provides critical funding for planning, policy changes, and public infrastructure such as land acquisition, demolition and removal of structures and general redevelopment activities.

The URD sets up a special taxation district to essentially revitalize an area. The taxes gained from the increase of property values over time within the district are redirected to the URD fund. Property taxes for residents inside and outside the URD remain the same. What changes is how those tax revenues are allocated to the different districts.

“The EMEDA would like to pursue an URD as an economic development tool for the City to address blighted structures and general redevelopment activities. There are many under-utilized properties in the community and public infrastructure needs as well – needs an URD can ultimately address,” Madler said.

EMEDA will hire a consultant for the feasibility study and planning stages. The study will take several months to complete before being brought back to the Council for review.